The Editors
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Does God Listen?

Last month, Tim Tebow, the famously religious quarterback who kneels in prayer before, during and after games, led the Denver Broncos to several wins. During one memorable game, the phenom passed for an astonishing 316 yards in 10 throws. People were quick to link that to the verse from John’s Gospel (3:16) that Mr. Tebow had written on his “eye black,” the patch of paint under his eyes to cut glare. His victories have made fans (and others) wonder: Is God answering Tim Tebow’s prayers? (Mr. Tebow acknowledges that he prays for God’s help in the game.)

The answer is: Yes, no, and we don’t know. First, yes. God hears everyone’s prayers, no matter who you are; just as Jesus says that God causes the rain to fall on the just and the unjust, and sends the sun to shine on the evil and the good. But does believing in God mean that you will get exactly what you want? No. At first blush, that would seem to be what the Bible promises. Jesus says, “Ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Clearly, though, believers do not always obtain precisely what they ask for in prayer (think Broncos vs. Patriots on Jan. 14). So why are our prayers—especially those to end suffering—not answered in the ways we would wish? That leads to, We don’t know. As the Book of Isaiah says, “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ says the Lord.”

Why God does not respond to everyone’s prayers as they would like is a tough question to tackle. But in the end, the answer to our prayers is not a touchdown or a Super Bowl victory or a new car or a raise or even good health. The answer is deeper than that, and more lasting. The answer to our prayers is God.

Citizen Adelson

Ever since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the case of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (2010) that corporations could expend unlimited funds to influence elections, observers have been speculating about the myriad ways money would pollute the political process. Sadly, some of the worst fears are already coming true. Put aside the negative advertisements in Iowa aimed at Newt Gingrich, which allowed Mitt Romney’s supporters to attack Mr. Gingrich without entangling their candidate in bad publicity. The most troubling development came after the Iowa caucuses, when Sheldon Adelson donated $5 million to a super PAC that supports Mr. Gingrich. Mr. Adelson is a longtime friend of Mr. Gingrich, so the gift was not unexpected. But it seems that one of Mr. Gingrich’s infamous historical broadsides may have persuaded his friend to make the donation.

According to reports, Mr. Adelson, a strong supporter of Israel, and of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in particular, is in full agreement with Mr. Gingrich’s recent comments on Palestine. “Read the history of those who call themselves Palestinians, and you will hear why Gingrich said recently that the Palestinians are an invented people,” said Mr. Adelson. “There are a number of Palestinians who will recognize the truth of this statement.”

Mr. Gingrich was pilloried for his statement, and rightly so. Yet now, thanks to the Wild West nature of campaign financing in the United States, he is, in a way, being rewarded for his outrageous remarks. Mr. Adelson is exercising more influence over the Republican debate than any voter from South Carolina or Florida. Just as worrisome, he has a questionable business background (his casino company is under federal investigation) and holds extreme views on foreign policy. Even those who have defended Citizens United must admit that this is a very dangerous scenario.

A Catholic Candidate?

Of the two Catholic Republican presidential candidates still standing, Pennsylvania’s former senator, Rick Santorum, to a greater degree than other candidates, has constructed his image around an altar boy youth, his coal miner father and his big family of seven children, including the loss of a son born prematurely in 1996. He has gone out of his way to distinguish himself from President John F. Kennedy, who, he says, constructed a “threatening wall” that froze moral convictions out of political discourse. At the same time, although he calls himself “pro family,” in November 2011 he questioned the value of the government’s helping poor families with food stamps, Medicaid and housing assistance. “Suffering,” he said, “if you’re a Christian, is part of life.”

But there are several gaps between Mr. Santorum and the Catholic Church’s social justice teaching. The bishops want citizenship for undocumented immigrants; the former senator says that would invite migrants to break the laws. Pope Benedict XVI deplores the “scandal of glaring inequalities”; Mr. Santorum says, “I have no problem with income inequality.” The encyclicals support labor unions; this Catholic candidate would abolish public sector unions. While the bishops have condemned all use of torture, in a televised debate Mr. Santorum endorsed waterboarding and “enhanced interrogation techniques.” He has also long championed the death penalty, but now says he is thinking it over.

Comments

Dan Hannula | 2/9/2012 - 3:59pm
One little "political/ethical" conundrum about Senator Rick is his hypocrisy regarding the rights of injured people in civil actions.  The GOP right wing in general has been incredibly hostile to the rights of injured vicims for years,trying to rein in the rights of injured victims in civil actions. This, in spite of the fact that they also ostensibly favor "local government" solutions to problems.  You can't get any more local than a jury.  Anyway, back in 1994, when Santorum was in Congress and running for the Senate, he introduced H.R. 3918, which would have capped non-economic damages awarded by juries in medical malpractice cases at $250,000.  However, in 1999, Santorum’s wife, Karen, filed her own medical malpractice lawsuit in Virginia, seeking $500,000 in non-economic damages – twice the amount allowed in her husband’s own legislation five years earlier.  Maybe Rick and his wife strongly disagree on this public policy question?  I don't think so; Rick testified in her case about (you guessed it) her non-economic damages; he testified that his wife had a hard time campaigning for him because of her herniated disc.
Dan Hannula | 2/9/2012 - 3:59pm
One little "political/ethical" conundrum about Senator Rick is his hypocrisy regarding the rights of injured people in civil actions.  The GOP right wing in general has been incredibly hostile to the rights of injured vicims for years,trying to rein in the rights of injured victims in civil actions. This, in spite of the fact that they also ostensibly favor "local government" solutions to problems.  You can't get any more local than a jury.  Anyway, back in 1994, when Santorum was in Congress and running for the Senate, he introduced H.R. 3918, which would have capped non-economic damages awarded by juries in medical malpractice cases at $250,000.  However, in 1999, Santorum’s wife, Karen, filed her own medical malpractice lawsuit in Virginia, seeking $500,000 in non-economic damages – twice the amount allowed in her husband’s own legislation five years earlier.  Maybe Rick and his wife strongly disagree on this public policy question?  I don't think so; Rick testified in her case about (you guessed it) her non-economic damages; he testified that his wife had a hard time campaigning for him because of her herniated disc.
Keyran Moran | 2/4/2012 - 6:57am



I wrote this blog today to my friends, most of whom had a Catholic upbringing.

I would like to relate how the Catholics among us are quite split on the present national politics. One would think that Sam and Harry were raised in two different faiths or in two quite variant school systems. But in fact, they had almost identical Catholic education up to the bachelor’s degree.
 
Here are the Ten Commandents of Sam, but Harry still believes that the original set is more or less acceptable as a way of teaching children responsibility for their conduct—if reasonably interpreted to today’s world.
 



The Latest Decalogue
    Thou shalt have one God only; who
    Would tax himself to worship two?
    God's image nowhere shalt thou see,
    Save haply in the currency:
    Swear not at all; since for thy curse
    Thine enemy is not the worse:
    At church on Sunday to attend
    Will help to keep the world thy friend:
    Honor thy parents; that is, all
    From whom promotion may befall:
    Thou shalt not kill; but needst not strive
    Officiously to keep alive:
    Adultery it is not fit
    Or safe, for women, to commit:
    Thou shalt not steal; an empty feat,
    When 'tis so lucrative to cheat:
    False witness not to bear be strict;
    And cautious, ere you contradict.
    Thou shalt not covet; but tradition
    Sanctions the keenest competition.
 
Sam in fact thinks Rick Santorum is a pretty good candidate and Harry thinks he is despicable. Sam believes Santorum’s devotion to currency and the currency-class is just about right. Whatever RSs motives, he goes to Church on Sunday and indeed everyday if he can secure a few more votes. He brags about his father as miner—because he wants to appeal to the hard-working class although as president he would cut back on all protections to the protecting unions, etc. He is of course officially against murder, but the slaughter of Gazan families is OK because their fathers are Wicked and deserve it-and as a matter of fact—such endorsement is good for securing the Jewish vote. And he very much likes chastity for women—as in the Latest Dialogue—but a little fun on the side on the campaign trail is of course OK as long as the paparazzi are not around. And yes, he is firmly against shoplifting, but he goes along with only 15% tax for the rich and 30% (at least)—for single mothers working two jobs as evening office-cleaners. And lying to mothers and priests is of course too shameless and impious to allow, but defamation of the Democrats and the rogue GOP is only part of the American Dream of “whatever the traffic will bear” and a central inheritance of the Republican definition of capitalism or better the “Free Market” as he calls it.
 
 
LARRY | 1/30/2012 - 9:20pm

Re "A Catholic Candidate," even before Rick Santorum's recently repeated declaration of his Catholicity, most of my friends with at least a year of Latin had noticed that Rick's last name sounded Latin, and very much like "sanctorum" ("of the saints"), genitive plural of "sanctus" ("a saint"), a  word appearing often, in all its Latin cases, in Roman Catholic liturgy.  Some saint had to be behind Rick Santorum's recent miraculous electoral surge in Iowa.. 


 

Tom Maher | 1/26/2012 - 12:36am
Re: Citizen Adelson  - continued 

Creating a law banning political speech in a nation dedicated to First Amendment freedon of speech creates a constitutional challenge.  The clear meaning of the First Amendment is "Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech." 

Citizen Adelson is free to give his money to an incorporated "super PAC" that has a right not to be censored or have its free speech rights resticted by the government. 

 First Amendment ?r?i?g?h?t?s? ?a?r?e? ?????????????????????????????a?l?w??a???y???s???? ????????????a? ????????h???????u????????g???????????????????????????????e ?b?e?n?e?f?i?t? ?t?o? ??t?h?e? ?n?a?t?i?o?n??.??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????
Tom Maher | 1/26/2012 - 12:11am
Re: Citizen Adelson


This editorial's  "worse fears" complaints against the U.S. Supreme Court decison in the Citizens United v FEC case that ruled corporations have free speech rights like any other individual or group in America can not be avoided.  The editorial's complaints  reduces to the fact that the editorial does not like the politcal messages that are allowed under the First Amendment.  The Citizen United case overturned the McCain - Fiengold federal election provision that banned independent political speech by corporations including politcal advocacy groups like the Citizens United that were organized as corporations.  The First Amendment does not allow limits or restrictons on free speech of any citizen including corporation that are independently expressing their own political views.  

Creating a law b?anning polit?cal speech in a nation dedicated to First Amendment freedom of ?sp?e?ech? ?c?r?e?a?t?e?s? ???a????????? ????c?o?n???????s??t???i?t?u?t?i?o?n?a?l? ?c?h?a?l?l?e?n?g?e???.
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JIM MCCREA | 1/25/2012 - 4:13pm

Jack Watson @10:


Thanks for being so pedantic.


And it is theology student Virginia @ 4, not Ken @ 3.


But I won't say anything about your reading ability.

Leonor Fontes | 1/25/2012 - 2:05pm
God hears our prayers but we have to focus on things that are important for us and others, like good health, or we should pray for wisdom to make better decisions. If nothing happens we should continue to pray always, we should never lose faith if things go wrong. When things go wrong is not Gods fault.
JOHN WALTON MR | 1/25/2012 - 8:39am
Theology student Ken - it's "altar" the noun, not "alter" the verb. 
Bill Freeman | 1/22/2012 - 12:59am
Does Santorum agree with the Bishops?  Hell yes!  He has a unrelenting hatred of gays and lesbians and an agressive agenda to roll back any civil rights gains while undermining further ones.  Santorum is as empty and hollow as the cone heads themselves.  But the bottom line is tht the bishiops don't matter - they have lost all moral authorithy.  
6466379 | 1/21/2012 - 3:30pm

“Current Comment”  asks, “Does God Listen?” Addressing God, one of the Psalms says, “Bend your ear!” Can’t you just see God like an old guy audio challennged cupping his hand over his ear, bending forward asking, “Wha’  D’ya Say ?” Of course God listens, but he’s much more than a “Big Ear” in the sky he’s Intellect and more importantly he’s Heart.


 God has a Heart? Well, in the Hebrew Testament God says he loves David because he’s a man “after his own Heart!” So yes, clearly, God does have a Heart, an eternal reality tangiblized  at the Annunciation, when Mary said “Okay” to God’s request and the Word  began to pulsate under Mary’s heart. I think this makes  prayer empathic  to God, allowing him to feel our pain in his heart! Equally important, maybe more-so, prayer allows us to be empathic  towards God, feeling his pain in our heart!  Like the pain he must feel when he has to say “No” to one of our prayers.


“No” is, after all,  an answer to prayer. Once in a homily on prayer the priest said that God answers prayer in FOUR ways, “No” “Slow” “Grow” “Go.”  The meaning of the first is obvious. The second means, “what’s your hurry? Wait! The third means, “grow-up! Do you really know what you’re asking for?” The fourth means, “You have it! Now GO and tell the Good News!”  


In another homily on prayer, the priest compared praying to planting the seed of a certain species of Bamboo. Once planted you might as well forget about it as it takes many years for it to sprout. While waiting for years to see the results of the planting, the seedling is putting deep into the soil an elaborate root-system, assuring the plant of adequate food and water supply for its lifetime.  Once achieved the Bamboo shoots up and within a few weeks is ten feet tall!


Yes, God not only listen to prayer but also acts on it, but prayer must be offered according to the designs of God’s Will as Jesus taught, rooted in his following words, “If you ask the Father for anything in my name, it will be granted.” Jesus has many names. One of them is “Truth” meaning that our prayer to be answered must be free of all pretense, vanity, or wishful thinking. Prayer must be saturated in Truth not as we see it, but as God sees it. Then and only then will the “anything” Jesus promised happen, for whatever exists apart from the “anything” as God knows it, simply doesn’t exist! Once we “get it” I means understand the privilege of prayer, then we can say, or pray, and means it, “Yes, Lord, are the way and the Truth!” At least that’s how I understand it

C Walter Mattingly | 1/21/2012 - 5:21am
Mike (6),
Is it mean-spirited to support, as Santorum does, or support terminating, as Obama does, the life of the nascent child? Is it mean-spirited to attempt to provide the inner-city child robbed of a decent education by a self-interested corporate monopoly which neglects the interest of the child a choice of a good educational alternative, as Santorum does, or one who wishes to deny him the choice that voucher would provide, as Obama does? Is it mean-spirited to attempt to provide assistance in such a manner that will teach a man to fish, to make him more self-sufficient and raise his self-esteem in the process, or is it mean-spirited to provide him a regular handout for assistance, leaving him dependent upon the government which gobbles resources and continues to benefit from the votes the person so dependent is reduced to making to the bureaucrats' political and financial interest? It is the one who exterminates the nascent unborn who is the moral bully, the one who denies the desperately needy a decent chance and choice for obtaining that decent education who is the moral bully, it is the one who builds dependency to secure his loot and power at the top of the bureaucratic fiefdom that is the moral bully. Clearly, the party which has such an emphasis on terminating the innocent unborn and developing a culture of dependcy upon their bureaucratic largess, denying the growth of an independent moral sense in the process, that undercuts the moral sense of our nation in their actions.
Mike Evans | 1/20/2012 - 9:00pm
Neither Santorum nor Gingrich personify the ideals of Catholicity. Both are mean spirited and negative minded candidates who denigrate the poor and refuse to even consider their plight. I want nothing to do with either of them. They are non-negotiable economic and moral bullies.
C Walter Mattingly | 1/20/2012 - 6:09pm
On the other hand, Mr Santorum is in favor of exterminating about 1 million fewer unborn children in America on an annual basis than our current president. Many would consider that a printable positive.
 
Virginia Edman | 1/20/2012 - 5:12pm
“Suffering,” he said, “if you’re a Christian, is part of life.”

My reaction to this statement by Rick Santorum and other sentiments in your article is unprintable.  I am a Catholic student in theology, and there is reason to think that this candidate is a fundamentalist who has not had any growth in the spiritual aspect of his life since he was an alter boy.  He has probably not had any encouragement to confront his narrow understanding as the priests would like the parish to be compliant.  Once you realize that Jesus was revolutionary and that the perferred option for the poor is real, things look a little different.  Strutting like peacocks, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum are a frightening alternative to President Obama who has, in my opinion, a more Christian approach.
KENNETH FREDGREN MR | 1/20/2012 - 4:39pm
Clearly, President Obama is more "Catholic" than Mr. Santorum.  Food for thought.
Andrew Russell | 1/20/2012 - 3:46pm

Welcome to the Catholic Cafeteria, Rick Santorum, Frank Tantillo and others!

LEONARD VILLA | 1/20/2012 - 3:01pm

I think it is always risky to say someone is the "Catholic candidate" as a fait acommpli. However your list of what you claim is Catholic social teaching is not Catholic social teaching as listed and/or you need to be more specific.


You list as Catholic social teaching: "The bishops want citizenship for undocumented immigrants; the former senator says that would invite migrants to break the laws. Pope Benedict XVI deplores the “scandal of glaring inequalities”; Mr. Santorum says, “I have no problem with income inequality.” The encyclicals support labor unions; this Catholic candidate would abolish public sector unions. While the bishops have condemned all use of torture, in a televised debate Mr. Santorum endorsed waterboarding and “enhanced interrogation techniques.” He has also long championed the death penalty, but now says he is thinking it over."


Citizenship for undocumented aliens is a prudential judgment on the part of the bishops. Episcopal Conferences have no teaching authority per se unless ratified by Rome in accord with the law of the Church. Documentation of illegals is a policy proposal about which reasonable Catholics may differ unless you are identifying Catholic social teaching with open borders which is not Catholic social teaching. Regarding income inequality: equality of opportunity is one thing equality of result is another. You will never have income equality unless imposed by the government which is the goal of socialist/communist/statist regimes and why this produces the mess Europe is in now. Even in those regimes some are more equal than others. Equality of result is not Catholic social teaching.


Yes, the encyclicals support labor unions in general but the public labor union debate is about holding the public and taxpayers hostage for benefits that people in the private sector don't have. The common good is a larger Catholic social teaching than the existence of a particular union especially when that union is hurting the common good by draconian demands on the public. Consider the outcry from a public center union when they are asked to play 4% on their medical when private sector employees pay 8%! Who foots that bill? The taxpayers! The money is no longer there for that and confiscatory taxes are not Catholic social teaching either.


The death penalty? The Catechism provides for the death penalty and say so specifically even though it does not see its use if the public can be protected in another manner! Who makes that determination? Those charged with the common good! Santorum is certainly free to argue for the death penalty. Pope Benedict has pointed out that Catholics may freely disagree with clerics who are against the death penalty and that aversion to the death penalty is not on the same plane as the teaching against abortion where Catholics are bound to oppose politician or otherwise! Libneralism or what passes for liberalism these days is not necessarily Catholic social teaching. You keep pushing that as Catholic social teachings rather than policy decisions which you favor.

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